“Creating the Best Life for Animals” is the subtitle to Animals Make Us Human. Temple Grandin, the author of Animals Make Us Human, is autistic and she feels it has given her a special gift in relating to animals.
She emphasizes the importance of play and seeking activities for all animals. To have a rich life, pets need to use their brains – and they do this by trying to satisfy their intense curiosity and by playing. Owners are responsible for ensuring that they get these opportunities. Especially fascinating is her description of the evolution of the domestic dog from the wolf.
Beware Cesar Millan fans; she has fundamental philosophical differences regarding owner dominance and pack behavior. (She doesn’t think the pack leader theory is useful in most households).
Grandin also cites evidence that cats can be trained - by using rewards, rather than negative reinforcement. (This is true with all pets, but especially cats). Cats are still more on the “wild” end of the continuum of wildness to domesticity. Wild animals just run when punished; they don’t learn anything from being punished, other than to fear the punisher.
Grandin’s theories resonant with all species (including our own).